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Start With A Story
Start With A Story provides books, story times, and outreach to the hundreds of children who visit their parents at two Alameda County Jails: Santa Rita in Dublin and Glenn Dyer in Oakland. An Alameda County Librarian who runs the jail’s inmate literacy services initiated Start With A Story in early 2007 after watching children wait in line for hours — often an entire day — to spend a few minutes with their incarcerated parents. She recognized the untapped opportunity to provide literacy outreach to these youngsters.
Start With A Story operates at the jail on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Volunteers staff a table with a wide selection of books catering to a range of ages and interests. Each child visiting the table may choose a book to keep. Volunteers often read to the children. Start With A Story helps youngsters improve their reading skills, become more interested in reading, and learn more about library services and programs.
Start With A Story also helps encourage regular family visits to the jail by making the visits a more pleasant experience. Research has found that frequent and regular family visitation can greatly reduce the trauma experienced by the child as a result of the separation while also improving the inmate’s potential for a successful parole after release from prison. However, jails can be frightening and cold places for children to visit, often providing noisy, crowded visiting areas. Children are often relegated to many long hours of waiting at the jail for a brief visit with an incarcerated parent or guardian.Start With A Story offers these children the most precious of all opportunities: the chance to escape inside a good book.
In the coming year, Start With A Story plans to distribute over 2,600 books to children and youth visiting parents at Santa Rita Jail.
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